Skip to Main Content

Development in Education in East Asia: Searching for New Research Directions - Webinar 2


Development in Education in East Asia: Searching for New Research Directions - Webinar 2



The Centre for Research in Education in East Asia (CRECEA) at the University of Bath together with Lingnan University and University of Durham are organising a webinar series on “Development in Education in East Asia”. The series focuses on a variety of development issues and educational topics including educational policy, social justice equity in education, language education, and educational leadership.


Aims: This webinar series aims to share and generate knowledge of the development in education in East Asia. Each webinar consists of 3 key presentations on a specific theme, Q & A and discussions. Through webinars we aim to generate research collaboration ideas and build research teams to apply for funding bids. 



  • University of Bath (UK), CREA
  • Lingnan University (HK), Institute of Policy Studies
  • University of Durham (UK), International and Comparative Research Cluster



Webinar 2: Educational (in)Equality and Social Justice


Convenor: Lingnan University (HK)

17:30 - 19:00, Thursday 25 March 2021 (HK time)

09:30 - 11:00, Thursday 25 March 2021 (UK time)


Professor Andrea Abbas (University of Bath):

Towards More Socially Just Methodologies:  the role of theorised methodologies in tackling global inequalities.


Dr Jiaxin Chen (Lingnan University):

Class consciousness of Chinese rural migrant children and the influence of educational meritocracy in schooling


Dr Cristina Costa (University of Durham) & Dr Huaping Li (Shanghai Normal University):

From on-campus to on-line: international students’ experience on the ground during a pandemic




Topic: Towards More Socially Just Methodologies: the role of theorised methodologies in tackling global inequalities



Professor Abbas will discuss why she thinks it is important for our network to collaborate to develop more socially just methodologies. She will illustrate key challenges in this type of work that need research and argue that the methodological aspects of cross-national collaborations towards social justice need careful articulation so that they can be used and developed by other researchers. She will illustrate the value of critical realism as a theoretical approach that is useful to do this.


Professor Abbas will also illustrate her argument drawing upon three cycles of research that had aspirations to co-create knowledge.  Her approach was influenced by many authors in feminist, disability studies, ethnic studies, critical race research, studies of socio-economic and educational injustices, and decolonising work: as well as by other participants in the project.  Her trajectory in these three projects was consistently guided by the question, what role can she, as a white western based, female academic, play in making this process of knowledge generation more inclusive, more socially just and more relevant for the context of its use?  


In these three cycles we aimed to develop an understanding of how to support the generation of knowledge and education for inclusive education in South West China.  The first project was a large international project EU funded project that generated 6413 surveys of teachers and interview and focus group data involving a further 51 stakeholders: teachers, NGO representatives and local education authority representatives in the areas relating to the Chengdu, Guangxi, Tibet and Chongqing based university partners.  The second cycle involved one to two-hour interviews with 14 with researchers from these partners and from the four European universities involved.  The third stage involved a project funded by The Chinese High-End Foreign Expert Scheme. This was a smaller collaboration whereby Chinese training teachers and Chinese co-researchers worked with Bath scholars and they generated 209 observation sheets with and 24 interviews with the observed teachers.





Prof Andrea Abbas


Prof. Andrea Abbas

University of Bath, UK

Professor Andrea Abbas is Professor of the Sociology of Higher Education in the Department of Education at the University of Bath.  She is Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Asia.  She is Link Convenor of the Gender and Education Network of the European Educational Research Association.  She is on the Editorial Board of CRiSTaL (Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning  ( After completing her PhD at Keele University Andrea worked at the University of Teesside and the University of Lincoln (all UK).  Her work has been published widely and has attracted funding from research councils, charities and policy making bodies.


Andrea’s work explores how critical theories help us to understand the (re)production of inequalities and injustices and whether this understanding can be harnessed to lead change in diverse and complex contexts. Her current work focuses on: 1) How socially just and intellectually and credible knowledge for inclusive education in diverse areas of South West China can be co-created by countries and researchers that embody historical inequalities; 2) Whether critical realist analysis of social scientists and humanities scholars (academics) careers, can bring new insights to how (in)equalities and advantages are embedded in their identities, the timescapes they use and encounter, their conceptions of space, their emotional styles, their embodiment and their disciplinary knowledge to reproduce, further or challenge the neoliberal tendencies and inequities in the academy, including in the new conditions during and post-pandemic; 4) How new understandings of widening access and the role of pedagogy, curriculum and knowledge can be developed in the transformation of individual students and universities and wider society. All of this work engages with intersecting inequalities such as, gender, (dis)ability, class, ethnicity, and nationality. 




Topic: Class consciousness of Chinese rural migrant children and the influence of educational meritocracy in schooling



Children of rural migrant workers in China are highly likely to reproduce their parents’ working class position when they join the workforce. However, the state of class consciousness of working-class children in China has received scant attention in the scholarly literature. This study examines the class consciousness of rural migrant children and the function of schooling received by these children in urban areas in shaping and reforming their social consciousness of inequalities. Qualitative investigations were conducted in two primary schools in Beijing. Focus group and individual interviews were held with 87 fifth- and sixth-grade migrant children in the two case schools and 324 valid student questionnaires were collected. The findings reveal that migrant children are aware of the unequal class relationships suffered by migrant workers; however, their interpretations of class-based injustices exhibit false consciousness, shadowed by individualism, meritocracy and the duality of images. Moreover, while teachers at the two case schools approached inequality issues differently, they were all committed to the ideology that “education changes destiny.” The tenet of educational meritocracy was a perfect self-sustaining teleology, effectively impeding the formation of a truly critical understanding of class inequality.





Dr Jiaxin Chen


Dr. Jiaxin Chen

Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Dr. Jiaxin Chen is a Research Assistant Professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. She received her PhD in Sociology of Education from Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong in 2017. Before joining Lingnan University in 2020, Dr. Chen has work experience at East China Normal University from 2017 to 2020 as a Post-doc Fellow, at Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong from 2016 to 2017 as a Research Assistant, and at Beijing Normal University as the Project Assistant from 2011 to 2013. She is particularly interested in research on migration, education equity, social mobility and reproduction.




Topic: From on-campus to on-line: international students’ experience on the ground during a pandemic



The onset of COVID-19 has triggered a quick transition in HE to online environments. This has had consequences for academic staff, but it also has had real implications for students, many of whom have never experienced online education. Little is known about students’ experiences when their studies are unexpectedly migrated online, including the kind of novel cultural experience that accompanies this switch over and above teaching and learning practices.


This switch will impact student groups differently. This presentation focuses on international students who often have to negotiate their cultural capital in the context of on-campus education as a process of self-formation. What happens when their on-campus experience is moved online? 


We will present preliminary findings of an ongoing project pertaining to the experiences of international students who, due to COVID-19, will have experienced university life on-campus and online in the context of UK HE.





Dr Cristina Costa


Dr. Cristina Costa

University of Durham, UK

Dr Cristina Costa is an academic in the school of Education, Durham University. She has a strong interest in educational and digital practices and inequalities. She is particularly interested in exploring the intersection of education and emergent social phenomena through different social theory lenses. She has conducted research on numerous areas, including widening participation, digital literacies and digital inequalities, curriculum innovation and digital scholarship practices in the last few years. For example, she was the UK co-coordinator of the ERASMUS+ project Digital Literacy and Inclusion of Learners from Disadvantaged Background. (2015-2017). She has also worked on different projects regarding Estranged Students’ Experiences of Higher Education with Professor Yvette Taylor.


Currently she is working on a BA/Leverhulme Small Grants funded project entitled From on-campus to online: International students returning to academia in the context of COVID-19 with Dr Huaping Li (Shanghai Normal University).


She has also started another research project with Dr Ana Lúcia Pereira that aims to explore students' and academics' digital pedagogical practices and wellbeing in Brazil: Higher Education interrupted: exploring the challenges covid-19 poses to students and academic staff in Brazil


Dr Costa has published widely in the field of education and (digital) inequalities as well as social theory. Amongst her many writings there are two books on Pierre Bourdieu and theory application that she co-edited with Dr Mark Murphy that have become extremely popular amongst the research community. She is also the co-convenor of the BERA SIG: Social Theory and Education.

Dr. Huaping Li


Dr. Huaping Li

Shanghai Normal University, China

Dr. Huaping Li is a lecturer in Teacher Education at Foreign Languages College, Shanghai Normal University. She is keen on intersecting research themes including globalisation, cultural diversity, internationalisation in higher education (teacher education in particular), and education for global competence. Dr. Li is currently working on research projects looking at international students returning to the academia in the context of Covid-19 with Dr. Cristina Costa (sponsored by the British Academy) and the role of pastoral care in students’ engagement with study abroad programmes with Mr. David Roxburgh (sponsored by the British Council).

* A webinar link for each seminar will be provided before the event.



Register Now